With the release of the 7.20 patch the meta of the game got significantly faster. Lower armor on structures and the increased efficiency of armor-reduction effects led to games often snowballing out of control. Coupled with changes to the deny mechanic, where you no longer get bonus experience, it led to many teams successfully experimenting with trilanes once again.
Players realized that they generally need a high-impact tempo hero early on, someone their team can rely on to create space. They are also trying to get away with greedier heroes in the first position, to have an advantage in the later portions of the game, if it does go long. What it led to is that more and more often we see solo offlane heroes who are capable of securing their own farm and levels early on and then attempt to be their team’s playmaker, while the carry has the attention and care of both his supports.
The return of utility offlaners
Dual lanes were the go-to strategy of the previous patch. A strong dual lane could easily snowball out of control in terms of levels early on, handily beating potential trilanes through having access to more abilities and higher stats. With the changes to the deny mechanic it is no longer possible—you can still get a level advantage over the enemy if you deny every single creep, but it isn’t going to be as pronounced and generally won’t make up for the number disadvantage in a 2 vs 3 scenario.
Trilanes or roaming supports became the norm once again, meaning that there is now a demand for offlaners who can stand in their lane solo, with or without some help in the first couple of minutes.
Faster pace of the game also meant that these solo heroes couldn’t be too greedy. Teams need the ability to make early plays, otherwise they get overrun and either forced to stay in their base or lose the game outright.
High midgame impact utility offlaners are in high demand. Heroes like Beastmaster, Centaur Warrunner, Tidehunter and Dark Seer are among the most popular heroes of the Chongqing Major for that reason.
These heroes can secure their farm even against a strong trilane, can jungle if necessary and don’t need much in terms of items to be very effective. They are great when your team is ahead and can stall the game if your team is behind, allowing for potential recovery. Finally, they can afford to buy early game teamfight utility items, as they are not expected to itemize for maximum damage or farm acceleration.
Taking over the game
One interesting side-effect of this meta shift is that we often see offlaners completely taking over the game. In an attempt to get an advantage or equalize the laning stage, teams often opt for aggressive trilanes, leading to a trilane vs. trilane situation. That leaves one lane in a 1v1, with offlaners battling it out against each other.
This leads to a massive level disparity between heroes. It is not uncommon now to have a level 7 or 8 hero ganking a trilane of level three or four heroes. These early game rotations can have a massive impact, as the level advantage alone is often enough to make the hero almost unkillable and be a huge kill threat.
During the Major we saw offlaners take over the game time and time again. Heroes like Beastmaster running around handily killing pre-level six supports are no longer surprising and neither are carries jungling as soon as level four.
The games are significantly more active for that reason, since each team will now generally have a hero who can start making plays early on and prey on underleveled enemies. Some more confident teams even go as far as having a tempo hero in the mid lane as well, with some hard carry as their primary win condition.
What does it mean for pubs?
Pubs, at least at higher levels of play, adjust to the professional meta pretty quickly and we are already seeing more trilanes. For all offlane players this new meta means that they get to shine very bright in their games, but also have a lot more weight on their shoulders.
In most cases it is going to be on the offlane player to start making calls and rotating heavily in the early to midgame. Playing passively if your opponent is active on the map will eventually lead to a loss through incremental advantages and better map control from the opponent. Seeking kills with or without the help of a teammate should be the default line of behaviour for a tempo hero who doesn’t need to farm up to have an impact.
Depending on the hero, the same can also apply to mid players, but in pubs they are generally on the greedier side and should probably try to farm up as well, only rotating for tower defense. The same applies to carries, who will often be underleveled for at least 15 to 20 minutes and are an easy target.
As a position five support, this new meta can be pretty devastating, since your main goal is going to be to provide as much security as you can for your other cores. Tank ganks, suicidally push out waves and make sure your carry is uninterrupted. Having vision and counter-vision is also even more important in the new patch. Your team needs to know where to gank and you need to waste as much of opponent’s time as you can: make the enemy guess where to go by securing your whole jungle with sentries.
Position four supports are generally going to be paired up with the offlaner, to ensure the early and midgame kills. This should ideally provide them with a small but steady income and a way to scale into the later stages of the game.
This patch is about being active and making plays, while also avoiding or properly responding to the plays made by your opponent. While it was always true for Dota in general, given the pace of the game and how quickly a match can end playing as a team is more important than ever.
Punish greed and laziness, make plays, and you will have much better chances in 7.20.